There are planned pictures,and there are accidental pictures. And then there are those for which both are required.
It is clearly important, when making pictures, to have an idea: a new approach, a new angle, a new camera setting that takes you from the obvious "front and center" kind of image to something unexpected. My idea in this case was to capture, not the animals themselves (a family of wild coatis in Mexico) but just the "forest" of tails that they created when bunched together.
Coatis often hold their tails vertically, thought to be linked to their intense social structure. (Other,unrelated animals like ring-tailed lemurs do it as well) They make a wonderful pattern and, I thought, might make a picture I had never seen done before. So I lay on the ground in front of them and cropped out their faces, thinking the red tails and green background might make for a nice abstract.
What I didn't count on was this little cub jumping up on the backs of its siblings, either to get a better look at me or just tired of always being stuck at the back of the pack. I focused quickly, got the picture, and almost instantly he was gone. I took plenty of tail shots, but in the end, that face in the forest, that look of hope and excitement made a picture I could never have planned.
Cozumel Island Coati
(c) 2014 Kevin Schafer